Photographs of the alleged Florida Skunk Ape creature are below
LEGEND OF THE SKUNK APE
Believers say there is proof he exists, could he be in Columbia County, Florida?
FLORIDA --- Bill Schreiber of Branford, Florida has contributed the following report to this site. The article was published in Living Today Section of the Lake City Reporter Newspaper in Florida. Dated September 26, 1997, it was written by Features Editor Reporter Leslie Roberts.
In light of recent evidence that yes, Virginia there is a skunk ape, local authorities are looking at was to deal with the legendary creature. Of course the only evidence the gargantuan, smelling thing exists is a blurry photo with a brown blob in its center, but thats enough to investigate the possibility that Floridas own Sasquatch is for real. Why not? According to skunk ape lore, the beast normally hangs out in the Everglades [of Florida.] But there is no reason to believe it would want to stay in south Florida forever, is there?
"You figure hes doing like everybody else in south Florida and coming to North Florida said bill Lycan, director of the Columbia County solid waste facility. While Lycan hasnt noticed anything unusual at the landfill for the skunk ape, described as a big, hairy, creature that smells like a combination of rotten eggs, moldy cheese and dung, "a landfill or a chicken house would be a good place to hide," he said.
Dewey Weaver, spokesman for the Lake City Florida Game and freshwater Fish commission office, said while hes had no reports of skunk ape sightings, he "will after this story." While some, including David Shealy, a lifetime Everglades resident who says he has seen the elusive Skunk Ape, are certain the skunk Ape exists and others are not so sure the creature amounts to anything more than a time worn myth.
Weaver, for instance, exhibited a bit of skepticism about the whole skunk ape thing. "I rank it right up there with the tooth fairy," he said.
Shealy, on the other hand, insists there is such a beast. He claims that it lives in abandoned alligator caves which are muddy underground holding tanks of sorts that alligators may inhabit for months, doing all that alligators do there, then leaving the remnants behind to stew in the Everglade dry season.
That accounts for the smell A lot of old timers believe the skunk ape can go in the aquifer underneath the Everglades and travel through it and come out in another place." Shealy said. Hey, there is an aquifer in Columbia County, which means of course, the skunk ape could pop up there any day.
Weaver, when pressed, said if he received a call about a skunk ape sighting he would "probably ask if there was any kind of physical evidence, such as tracks, hairs, something to go on," he said.
"The Game and freshwater fish Commission offers callers no referrals for psychiatric counseling," Weaver said. But if the creature did show up in Columbia County, what would the Game and Freshwater fish Commission do, try to trap it? "We probably dont have a device that would trap that, judging from its size," Weaver said. "When we deal with other large animals we tranquilize them."
Legend goes that the skunk ape stands more than 7 feet tall, weighs more than 300 pounds and is the color of brown swamp mud. It has a mostly vegetarian diet and loves to steal pots of lima beans left to soak by Everglade hunters. Yet the ape has also been said to kill a deer, split open its belly and eat only the liver.
"Skunk ape hunters try to bait them with livers," Shealy said. As with any myth, second and third-hand accounts abound. A man calling himself Scotty in the swamp tells of an incident he claims happened to a friend in the l950s. "It was getting dark and he saw a shadowy figure in the approaching darkness. In those days you would stop for people," said Scotty, who sells another persons Everglades photography along the Tamiami Trail. "He immediately noticed a rotten odor. Then through the window came a big hairy arm and he just floored it."
Shealy said a group of hunters told me about the night that a skunk ape fell through the roof of their cabin, its eyes glowing red. As the men scrambled for their guns, it ripped a window from the wall and disappeared into the Glades.
Others who know the Everglades well dont give the skunk ape legend much weight. Bill Carroll spent the last eight years as a chief ranger of the Bill Cypress National Preserve. In all that time neither he nor any of his 70 park rangers and fire fighters, who annually cover the three quarters of a million acres by helicopter, airboat, swamp buggy and foot, has seen the creature. "We are not giving it much credence, " Carroll said of the photo evidence, "but the skunk ape thing is fun." [The general feeling among serious Bigfooters in North America is that the photographs are faked.]
The Skunk Ape, also called the swamp Ape is the same legend as the Yeti, Sasquatch or Bigfoot. There are numerous Internet sites dedicated to the legend, including the Global bigfoot Encyclopaedia that reports "confirmed" sightings of the animal in five south Florida counties. "
The number of sightings in Florida is the greatest number outside of the Pacific Northwest" said Dr. Grover Krantz, a Washington State University anthropologist and noted Bigfoot author, expert. While Krantz believes a skunk ape could exist, he doubts Shealys accounts of the creature moving through the aquifer since the creature "isnt any more fond of water than any other animal." And what about hiding in caves? "They dont live in anything" Krantz said, "they are open country animals."
The five summertime sightings occurred in Collier County in the 729,000-acre Big Cypress preserve. All of the sightings have been near Ochopee, Florida which also claims the smallest post office in the United States. Shealy maintains the skunk ape sightings are not a hoax. He has two large plaster-of-Paris prints supposedly cast from the footprints of the beast that he keeps in a glass-topped box.
Shealy claims to have had a reddish hair sample from the skunk ape that he plucked from a broken branch seven feet from the ground. but then two guys in dark suits with dark wraparound sunglasses and driving a dark-colored car, [yes, Men In Black] burst in on him in the middle of the night and took it.
Last month, Shealy took the photo shot by the fire chief and presented it to the Collier county Commission. The panel let him speak even though they hoped to avoid the whole issue.
When commission chairman Tim Hancock was handed the photo, the other commissioners huddled around as they would see a picture of a new grandchild and started to poke fun. "Mr. chairman, in the interest of tourist dollars, we should release the picture immediately," said commissioner Tim Constantine.
"We could sell it to INSIDE EDITION television program" Hancock said. "We could subsidize the general fund next year."
The Features Editor for this story, Leslie Roberts, may be reached by calling 752-1293, Ext #242.
The Associated Press contributed greatly to this story.
The caption for the newspaper story photograph reads: "Believers in the everglades Skunk Ape say this photo proves the Souths own Sasquatch exists. The recent image, taken at a great distance, was provided by David Shealy and shot near Ochopee, Florida. *It shows a brown blob in the center of the circle that an arrow points to. Believers swear it is not a man in a gorilla suit." -Associated Press Photo. (*The consensus among veteran hominid researchers in Florida is that Shealy hoaxed these photographs...)
For purposes of clarification, the pictures on this website are NOT the photographs included in the newspaper article above, but were sent to this website by other Floridians, who say these are additional photographic evidence allegedly taken by David Shealy in the Ochopee area. -January 15, 1998
Many hominid researchers still question the veracity of these photographs, including me. These photographs are believed to be hoaxed photographs of the "suit-nick" generation... Bobbie Short, 1998...
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